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1cSister Bonnie Steinlage, sfp

Periodically, Hope Lutheran Church in Cincinnati honors a community member who has made an outstanding contribution to the poor and homeless. This year, they chose to honor a Franciscan Sister of the Poor, Sister Bonnie Steinlage.

On October 28, 2012, Pastor Lisa Arrington, in the presence of previous awardees and members of the congregation presented “The Anchor of Hope Award” to Sister Bonnie for her work with Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart. In 1988, Sister Bonnie started this ministry to provide free professional hair care services for persons of low or no income to assist them toward restoring their dignity and self-confidence during financially debilitating times.

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The program now administers and operates a licensed beauty salon for the homeless and residents in the Over-the-Rhine area near downtown Cincinnati. In 1998, the ministry initiated a voucher program which made available via 140 schools and social service agencies (including shelters) gift certificates/vouchers to persons in the greater Cincinnati area who are seriously financially limited or receiving assistance through social service agencies or school free lunch programs. Unable to provide all the services from their one salon, Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart reimburses various salons and colleges for their hair care services.

Asked to speak to the group about this ministry for 15 minutes, Sister Bonnie shared its history – inspired by Scripture and supported by the Congregation. She also spoke of her own spiritual journey – how she was living out her Baptismal name, Bonita (meaning beauty, restoring beauty to others); Veronica (who wiped the face of Jesus, giving comfort to the suffering); Regina (queenly, honoring the dignity of each individual); and Steinlage (foundation builder, restoring self-esteem – the foundation of a person’s sense of dignity).

At the end of her 15 minutes, the group was so interested that they asked Sister Bonnie to continue. So she talked about the ministry, how it has grown and continues to grow; about how the hair care services meet very basic needs, such as, the need for human touch; how some of the clients receive professional hair care prior to job interviews; how some of the school children often do better in school when their appearance has been enhanced.

Since the inception of the salon and voucher program, Franciscan Haircuts from the Heart has served tens of thousands of people.

 

Associate Leah Curtin

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